ron rothman.ron rothman
selectively conformist

St. Ron’s Night on Bald Mountain

Last night, in reverse:

We returned home, tired, but happy that we got to spend time and laugh with our all wonderful friends.

As we drove back home from the city, I became more and more sure that I like “Night on Disco Mountain” (from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack) better than the original–and arguably classier–“Night on Bald Mountain.” Sacrilegous? Perhaps. (Okay, definitely.) But true, nonetheless.

We left Cafe Mozart, and our waiter shot me me one final, imploring glance. His heart… clearly broken.

Our desserts were pretty mediocre (other than the yummy fruit sauces that came with the cheescake), but Sara and I were having fun reliving our first date at Cafe Mozart. Actually, Cafe Mozart was just one of several stops we made that day–on our 14-hour first date. (The final stop, naturally, was my dropping her off for the night. When she literally jumped me in my car–that’s when I knew I was in. ;) ) Looking back at last night’s dessert experience, we can’t figure out how our friends kept themselves from puking every time Sara and I started pawing each other or calling each other “shmoopie.”

The waiter fell madly in love with me. Poor guy; his gaydar must need alignment. The fact that I ordered the frilliest thing on the menu (some kind of hot chocolate pudding drink) probably didn’t help. Or maybe it was my gay shoes? Either way, I’m pretty sure he thought he was getting some that night.

Finally, we all agreed to leave the concert early. We’d seen the first half–and enjoyed it–but we’d had enough. The [all-Russian] program:

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Alexander Toradze, Piano
James Wilt, Trumpet

  • MUSSORGSKY: St. John’s Night on Bald Mountain (1867)
  • SHOSTAKOVICH: Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet and Strings, Op. 35 (1933)
  • Intermission
  • SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93 (1946-1953)

Every time I go to Avery Fisher Hall, I remember that the last time I’d been there, I’d vowed never to go back. The acoustics are worse than… a dysacoustinasium’s. (I was going to say “cone of silence,” but it didn’t have quite the same ring.)

Actually, I should elaborate on my complaint. I need to clarify that the acoustics from the stage to the audience are horrible… but, as we learned last night, the acoustics in the other direction are fantastic! Better, even, than… a sonification chamber. (I was going to say “The Maparium…”) How did we learn this acoustic trivium? Why, from the dear old woman behind us whose phlegm we now consider a de facto member of the LA Phil.

The Shostakovich concerto was interesting–the first piece I’ve heard featuring trumpet and piano, and definitely a stand-out work. I liked some, but not all of it–though Sara thoroughly enjoyed the whole piece.

Night on Bald Mountain… not a piece we’ve seen on many programs, and one I really like listening to. Alas–and I don’t know whether to blame the hall or the orchestra–the instruments blended together too much, and the piece lost the dramatic tension which characterizes it. The recordings we’ve heard sounded better than the live performance. (Plus, I felt like they played it a bit fast… or was that just me?) Guess I’ll have to stick with Night on Disco Mountain for the time being. :-|

Brad and I raced through the streets to make it to Lincoln Center before the doors closed. After all, Night on Bald Mountain was, for me, the main event, and it was first on the program. We said our hurried good-byes and trotted along.

Met friends for dinner at Caffe La Fenice. (The homemade pasta was decent, if not a bit salty.) Saw my good friend, who I’ve not seen in months and who has since earned his PhD. Since we got there so late, I only got to exchange 12-or-so words with him, which was kind of a bummer; but now that he’s in New York for the summer, I hope we’ll see him again soon.

As we left home and got into the car, sara said, “Oh, you’re wearing your blue shoes.”

Felt like crap all day. Haven’t been sleeping well, and I had to take a nap just to be able to think coherently.

9 Responses to “St. Ron’s Night on Bald Mountain” [Leave yours »]

  1. Emanuel Ferritis said:

    The wait is over! “In about a week” Yeah right. I don’t care how sick you were, or how stressed you were at work. (OK maybe I care a little.) I wanna know what’s going on in your world. So type. Type like it’s going out of style, or if you do it enough the Pope will ban it! Enquiring minds like me want to know.

  2. Sara said:

    I won’t comment on Ron’s depiction of our first date (yes honey, we’ll talk later….) however I will elaborate a bit on the notable music we heard Friday night. First off, I agree with Ron that the Mussorgsky gave me a “mushy” feeling, which I attributed to the hall. But this morning I came across the NY Times review of the concert and Bernard Holland solved the mystery for us all. Seems that what we heard on Friday night was a performance of Mussorgsky’s first, unrefined version of Night on Bald Mountain. And Mr. Holland describes this first version as having a “gray, rough, brutal quality.” It was later that Mussorgsky edited the piece to make it cleaner, sharper the more refined version that we are used to. I’m happy we had the chance to hear this! The Shostakovich C-minor Piano Concerto really made an impression and has already been catapulted into my top-20 :) It was written in the 1930’s and within the music you can hear the sounds of jazz emerging from within the piece along with bar-room piano and influences of the heavy Russian classical tradition. I without a doubt loved the atmoshere of the piece and will be on the look out for future performances.

  3. Ron [author of post] said:

    Manny F.–it’s good to know that people actually read my drivel. i’ll write more as soon as we get back from vegas. (and i’ll see ya on wednesday night!)

    Sara–oops, i didn’t edit the post in time. #-o

  4. J Wilt said:

    How’d I do?

  5. Ron [author of post] said:

    i was hoping that sara (a flutist by training, and our resident music expert) would reply to you, but she’s preoccupied. my ear is not expert enough to discern a very good trumpet performance from a great trumpet performance–especially in a venue with such dull and disappointing acoustics as Avery Fisher–so i’m not sure how seriously you should take my opinion.

    that said, i very much enjoyed the trumpet sections of the piece. unfortunately, we couldn’t see you from where we were sitting (the piano was in the way), which was a bit of a bummer, since half the fun in live performances is watching the musicians. i particularly enjoyed the allegro, though i’m embarrassed to admit it, since it seems written to be a mocking crowd-pleaser.

  6. Father-In-Law said:

    hmmm……this is interesting to read……especially about the first date….

  7. Ron [author of post] said:

    well… that was a long day; i might not be remembering the end of the date accurately. :D

    p.s., i’m now in BIG trouble with my Editor-in-Chief (perhaps you know her?).

  8. J Wilt said:

    You are SO busted, dude…

  9. Sara said:

    busted for sure J!…and here I thought this entry was supposed to be about an evening of music :) My husband has an interestingly selective memory……


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